Monday, 30 June 2008
Again, the best description is to actually hear them, and so here is a video we filmed of them at EOTR Festival, performing (most of (it was too long a song for our remaining camera memory!)) Damien:
They obviously sound even better than that in person. Anyhow, afterwards I promptly bought their self-made ep, and have pretty much been listening to it regularly since last September (9 months now!)- there were three different ep covers available, and I chose this nicely coloured one:
I've since seen them two additional times, including at Union Chapel a couple of weeks ago, at a lovely free day-time gig, and was almost jumping for joy in my pew when they announced that their debut album was going to be released two days later, and that they had albums for sale with them that day.
The album can currently be listened to (although maybe only for a limited time) here at last.fm, and has nine great songs- including the four songs from the ep, which makes listening to it a bit disjointed for me at the moment, but only until I get to know and love the remaining five songs as much.
They're rather fab. Even drownedinsound liked them. Should that be enough to convince you!
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
I shall say some more in case you are not convinced, but if you like(d) Hjaltalín, then you will surely like the 'Hemm. I think they even share some horn players, in some big happy horn-swapping family kind of way. But they use a lot more horns. Horns are what Benni Hemm Hemm are about, even though Benni himself just sings/plays a guitar.
Their first self-titled album is probably the best place to start with them, half in Icelandic, half in English. Plus it has the greatly named I Can Love You In A Wheelchair Baby- not only does he sound pretty much like Jens Lekman, but he has also duetted with him as a bonus track for BHH's second album, Kajak, and then also had Jens Lekman sing in Swedish for Benni Hemm Hemm's cover of JL's Maple Leaves on BHH's limited release mini-album, Ein Í Leyni, released at the end of 2007 (if that strange sentence made sense!).
Anyway. After that giant gap of half a year or so, Benni Hemm Hemm are back! With their new colourful-looking album called Murta St. Calunga:
At the moment, this can only be bought from Iceland, from their new Icelandic label (same as that Hjaltalín band's label) Kimi Records, but you get a nice immediate download of the album straight away if you order the cd (or just a standard cheaper download-only version should you prefer). This time there are two songs in English (after having consciously moved away from any English sung songs for the past couple of releases), including Whaling In The North Atlantic. I've only listened to the album about 4 or 5 times so far, but I'm really liking it- lots of lovely pieces of instrumentation also.
A few more of their songs can be heard on their myspace, which just leaves me to end with one of the songs which begins the Benni Hemm Hemm story (providing you ignore their very first ep release, which I don't have, and so I shall)- live at the Luminaire in London in November 2006, with us sat back in deckchairs watching the great show; here is Beginning End:
Thursday, 12 June 2008
The singer seems to sometimes do a talking type of singing, and somehow seemed like a splice of the singers from Pulp, The Real Tuesday Weld, and Misty's Big Adventure. To me at least. And then with lovely strings, and lyrics about a boy/girl coming all over him, and the general epic-sounding'ness of it all. Two songs can be download from their Myspace, and you really should go download the giant 10 minute beauty that is Mysterious Skins- not a minute of it feels wasted or unneccessary. & then just listen to it repeatedly (my 25th play right now, says my music player, although it's been more really).
The other two non-downloadable songs on their myspace can be got from their 10" vinyl that they have released. A picture, see:
So yes, back to that earlier mention of them playing a gig- t'was at The Big Chill House, and they were as good as I was hoping for. We even filmed some of their songs, but unfortunately Mysterious Skin is above the 10 minute limit that youtube likes, but Terra Firma fits in with a whole minute and three quarters to spare, see:
The sound isn't perfect, but that's more a result of the camera than the sound of the band/gig itself (which was great), but it should give you a rough idea.
Am very much eagerly awaiting further releases and gigs from these chaps and chapesses.
Ooh la-di-da, ooh la-di-da-da!
Sunday, 11 May 2008
Anyhow, here is another chap I found via myspace called Ramón Alarcón, and his act (which I think is named after his grandmother) called Ramóna Cordova. It was back in March 2006, from Shugo Tokumaru's myspace where I decided to investigate his 'friends'- I hopped over to one I wasn't too keen on, but saw a nice enticing avatar of another 'friend'; that of Ramón's:
The above being the picture used for his album, The Boy Who Floated Freely. So I went to his myspace, listened, and was in love. Introduction sounded almost magical, and Giver's Reply is just a perfectly formed song with its dustbin-sounding percussion sounds. There were two other songs on his myspace also, but these two just grabbed my attention and I listened to them repeatedly, eager for the day that I could get his album. I was able to get it in April of that year, although it seemed like it was magically sent to me, as the website changed its mind afterwards about its stock availabilty/release date, and even now the websites I've looked at today seem to have it listed as out of stock, or the equally as bad '2-4 weeks' delivery warning, which is always going to end in disappointment.
The album is one of them 'concept' albums I suppose, which Ramón wrote about when I asked him for a story at his London gig that year. He later toured Europe with Shugo Tokumaru, but criminally they never came over to the UK!
Anyways. The reason I'm posting about him now is because of his new updated website, which has free mp3s of a demo version of The Boy Who Floated Freely- clicky here. That was a pleasant surprise for me to find, especially as he doesn't seem to be any nearer to writing a follow-up album. So listen to these demos, and if you like, then go buy the proper album.
If you can find it.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Their first release is a cdr in late 2006 called Menial As Archivists- different handmade versions of it are probably still available from them via their myspace, complete with wallpaper tracklist and flower petals placed in the packaging. 7 cool songs, with my favourite being The Pin Globes, followed by Heart Murmers and the interestingly named and disturbingly sounding Aids in The Milkbowl. They are strange. They are nice.
Their next release was initially the download only ep, Bone Marrow Artifacts, but a free download ep for y'all!
It initially didn't grab me as immediately as ...Archivists, but I've been listening to it quite a bit since December, and have since grown to love it also.
For physical-loving folk (like me), you can get ...Archivists and ...Artifacts both on a snazzy white cassette tape with some more sweet handmade'ness paper/drawings/sticky paint stuffs:
& finally. There are four more new songs on their myspace that I think will possibly be on their next release/album. A bit more electric guitar type sounds that I'm not too keen on, but still has their weirdness and will hopefully warm the goblin cockles of my heart.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Goes my favourite song of bob's: Run Off. It starts off slowly enough, and then the cello, and then the woo-hoo's. All the while the geetar continues, a piano in the background with the lady's backing vocals, all complimenting the deep and lovely voice of the main singer, who sings the word 'me' in a way that I love more than I should, and then the piano and the cello come more to the front of the song, and some banjo too, and then the woo-hoo's start again and the song feels too short, even though it's a nice decent 4 minutes 46. So I play and listen to it again. and again. I did that a lot last year. and then I listen to the rest of the album which is also beautiful, but Run Off has the focus of my attention forever.
This slightly nice song and it's album-mates are from last year's album by the name of Canadian Shield. Here is a picture of it so you know which one to buy when you search online. The picture will help you. You might possibly want to buy it from their label's site, which may posso be here.
Their myspace has some songs from Canadian Shield on it, but unfortunately not Run Off, or the sweet song with lady cello singer being the main singer in it: Your Cape. But the other songs are still great, so do have a listen.
Oh wait, here is the best I can do, a good ol' youtube live performance in some tiny place, which is pretty cool with the floor-sitting audience woo-hoo'ing along, especially with the gender-switching audience part too. woo-hoo miaow miaow.
They also have two older albums which, while nice, don't have the utter charm that Canadian Shield has. But this year, ol' bob released an emusic-only ep, Ghost Glacier. Two songs from it are from Canadian Shield, but the others are new'uns, that shall probably be on their (hopefully) soon-to-be released new album of the same name- i.e. Ghost Glacier. Sabertooth Tiger is a great song from it, and Window is a short but quirky and different-sounding song, so I am looking forward to my owl-loving continuing and growing. Hopefully yours also. Hopefo.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
I first came across Bowerbirds from a review on Pitchfork, and added it to my Excel list I keep (as should most people of course) of bands for me to investigate. I downloaded a few of their songs from various blogs, and listened to them for a while, not quite sure if I liked them enough for me to buy. But then the more immediate sounding of the songs, In Our Talons kept making me 'dee dee dee' along. & then I realised I was also quite enjoying the other more laid-back songs I had of theirs: My Oldest Memory, Dark Horse, The Marbled Godwit, and Olive Hearts. After this realisation of love I decided to buy their album, Hymns For A Dark Horse, from their website. & as often is the case for cds from America, it was a bargainous price- £7.11 says my other Excel spreedsheet...
Anyway. The album was brilliant, and all of their songs amazed me with their continued depths of nicenessness. My Oldest Memory became my favourite song from the album, but it could have easily been any from four or five others. They don't have the traditional listening bit on their myspace, but they have their own music player where you can hear some of their songs on their own website or on their myspace too.
I probably would have waited a while before posting about this band- more keen with even newer bands to sing about- but came across their recent performances on Blogotheqe. Seeing them sing Bur Oaks in that cramped shop is a joy to see (and hear). Then being even more cramped in the back of a driving vehicle thing for Dark Horse, playing The Ticonderoga beautifully on the roadside as people just walk and drive by, and then ending with the positively upbeat sounding song In Our Talons.
So yes. I love these guys. Go to their website to buy their album. Or you can wait for it to be given a wider release to the American label Dead Oceans this Spring, which will have a bonus two tracks. But surely it's more fun to just buy it directly from the band now? & their ep. Yes, i forgot to mention their ep, Danger At Sea, which has original versions of about half of the songs that were to be later given even more love and attention on the album.
& just as I was about to finally end this post, I thought I'd check youtube for any videos, and found this woodside rendition of My Oldest Memory there:
Saturday, 19 April 2008
They released the following ep last year on vinyl (see following scanned copy):
I contacted them via their myspace, and the singer Arne Martin Barlund responded and was most nice. I paypal'ed some Euros to get the vinyl and a nice cd version of it also, so I was able to keep my vinyl all nice and shrink-wrapped. I imagine the vinyl itself looks something like this:
It's hard for me to decide which of the 5 songs I love the most, as they're all cool. But here are a couple of their videos from the 'tube:
& Indian Summer
The above song isn't on the ep, but I remember it from my investigating days, with the tree-playing, ukulele and kazoo appealing to my Barcelona'esque loving. The video looks like it is from (possibly?) a Scandinavian version of Blogotheque/Take Away Shows. A quick skim through seems like Handheld Shows my be worth further investigating.
Monday, 7 April 2008
Another blog among millions, hooray. Should have nice music on it I would like to think.
I've decided that my first post will be about this lovely Icelandic band called Hjaltalín.
Their myspace says that they sound like: 'drums, guitars, bass, piano, violin, cello, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, keybord, accordion, harmonium, banjo, trumpet, trombone, french horn and vocals' which I suppose is true. But they are even better than the sum of all those great parts.
Go to their myspace and download Goodbye July / Margt Að Ugga and be prepared to listen to it repeatedly. & still you won't become sick of it.
& then here is a youtube video of them performing on Icelandic tele, which cemented my love for them with their snazzy style of dress. They seem to dress normally, err, normally, but the big hats and cane in this performance just added to the greatness of it for me.
Their album was released last year at the end of 2007, and you can buy it from Iceland here: http://kimi.grapewire.net/
I've ashamedly not bought it yet, but apparently it's going to be released in Scandinavia in the next couple of months (with extra brass!), so I shall instead buy that 2008 release so that I can rant about it again at the end of the year.
A lovely acoustic version of their Traffic Music has just been put on youtube, and sounds as beautiful as you could wish for.